LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas' unemployment rate dropped for a third straight month in November, to 5.8 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Unemployment in the state stood at 6.2 percent in September and fell to 6 percent in October. Economists say Arkansas added 10,300 employed workers last month, another positive sign for the state's economy, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Saturday (http://bit.ly/1HfNmQb ).
Michael Pakko, chief economist at the Institute for Economic Advancement at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said the state's addition of more than 10,000 workers is the largest gain he could find since 1985, when statistics were first tabulated. For November, the state's labor force was more than 1.3 million.
"It doesn't get much better than this," Pakko said. "It's a three-month trend of positive momentum."
Over the past year, Arkansas' unemployment rate has fallen 1.7 percentage points. The national unemployment rate in November was 5.8 percent, which was where it stood in October.
The number of employed workers in Arkansas is up 11,900 compared to November 2013. Unemployed workers dropped from 79,100 in October to 76,900.
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Since 2013, the number of unemployed workers is down 22,600, and about half that number was added to the workforce.
"It looks like those declines are slowing. It's getting better," said Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. "We're almost back to a flat labor force perspective and at the same time seeing jobs being created. That's how we want this to happen."
Workforce gains were recorded in seven major industry sectors. As expected during the holiday season, retail — part of trade, transportation and utilities — experienced an increase, adding 3,700 jobs.
Government workers increased by 1,300. A decline of 2,400 workers came in professional and business services.
Arkansas continued to experience growth in manufacturing and construction segments. Since November 2013, the state has added 5,400 jobs in manufacturing and 4,000 in construction.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com